The present two early and important volumes are from al-Majusi’s Kitab kamil al-sina’ah al-tibbiyah, 'The Complete Book of the Medical Art', also known as 'The Royal Book', latinised in the West as Liber Regalis. Of additional importance, the manuscript was copied by Ibn al-Awani, the royal physician at the Abbasid court in Baghdad.
The importance of these two volumes lies both in the text as well as in the scribe.
F.49b of the first volume, containing muqalah IX, bears a colophon with the name Ibn al-Awani, also known as Abu Mansur Shams al-Din al-Mubarak. Ibn al-Mubarak Ibn ‘Umar al-Awani ibn al-Sabbagh was an important physician at the Abbasid court in Baghdad, and is known to have been the personal physician of the Caliph Al-Mustansir (d. 1242 AD). He was also head of the historic and prestigious Mustansiriya Madrasa, and died a centenarian in 1284 AD. Al-Awani probably copied this volume in his early life, and it is worth noting that his name is also recorded as coming into the possession of a manuscript of this very same text copied by Ibn Atharudi, now in the University of California (Iskandar 1984, p.11, N.Ar.107).
‘Ali ibn al-‘Abbas al-Majusi (d.994 AD) was a Persian physician and psychologist who is considered one of the three greatest physicians of the Abbasid Caliphate along with Razi and Ibn Sina (latinised in the West as 'Avicenna'). He was a Muslim but his forebears were Zoroastrian hence the name al-Majusi. Born in Ahvaz, Southwestern Persia, he lived most of his life in Shiraz, training under Abi Maher ibn Sayyar and later under the patronage of the Shirazi ruler ’Adud al-Daulah.
Kitab kamil al-sina’ah al-tibbiyah, also known as Al-Kitab al-Malaki, was completed by al-Majusi around 980 AD. The work emphasises the need for a healthy relationship between doctors and patients, and the importance of medical ethics. It also provides details on a scientific methodology that is similar to modern biomedical research. The work comprises two books: the first juz’ is on medical theory in ten sections (maqalahs) and the second on therapeutics, also in ten sections. Each section is divided into chatpers (babs) which vary in each maqalah. The first volume offered here is maqalah IX from juz’ II and ends at the beginning of bab XIX, the one before the end of the maqalah. Maqalah IX in particular discusses the theme of surgery. An interesting feature of the manuscript is that at two points in the second volume (maqalah X), on pages sixty-four and seventy-eight, the scribe's marginal annotations (which give some remarks from his point of view as a physician) refer to al-asal, 'the original', inferring that Ibn al-Awani may have copied, or at least read, Majusi's original manuscript.
Other copies of the text
Probably the earliest-known copy of this work, dated to the last quarter of the tenth century, was sold in these rooms, 8 October 2014, lot 34. One of the earliest copies is dated 436 AH/1044-45 AD and now in the University of California (Iskandar 1984, p.11, N.Ar.107). There is a further copy written in Baghdad, dated 999 AH/1590 AD in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (MS.575.OL), whilst another is dated 841 AH/1437 AD with details of contents of books I and II in Arabic, in the Haddad Collection, WMS Arabic 409, (Serikoff 2005, pp.66-94). There are seven copies of the work in the Bodleian Library, none of which are complete, dated from 1161 to 1535 AD (E. Savage-Smith 2011, E.No.50). Eight more copies dated from 1303 to 1855 AD are in the Wellcome Library, (Iskandar 1967, pp.119-124). Seven copies dating from 1145 to the fourteenth century are housed in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (Arberry 1959, p.83). Another copy of the work dated 1138 AH/1726 AD exists in the Army Medical Library (Schullian and Sommer 1950, pp.305-6, no.A26), whilst finally there are seven copies dated from 1153 AD to the eighteenth century in the British Library (Baker 2001, M.3, pp.364-5). See also Brockelmann: GAL, I. 237 (273) and S., I. 423.